Monday, March 10, 2008

Spitzer Linked to Prostitution Ring, Apologizes to Public and Family

New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer was recently involved in a prostitution ring, according to a person familiar with the situation. On Monday, without referencing any specific behavior, Mr. Spitzer apologized to his family and the public at a hastily called news conference.

With his wife at his side, Mr. Spitzer told reporters that he "acted in a way that violates my obligations to my family."

"I have disappointed and failed to live up to the standard I expected of myself," he said. "I must now dedicate some time to regain the trust of my family."

Last week, federal prosecutors in Manhattan charged four people with organizing and managing an international prostitution ring, known as the Emperors Club VIP. The charges, unsealed Thursday, refer to a "Client-9" who, according to a person familiar with the situation, is Mr. Spitzer.

The New York Times reported earlier in the day that Mr. Spitzer told senior administration officials that he was linked to a prostitution ring. The report cited an anonymous administration official.

Lawyers said it was unlikely Mr. Spitzer himself would be indicted as part of the case, although they didn't rule it out.

Federal prosecution of prostitution-related offenses are rare, according to Michael Bachner, a former prosecutor in the Manhattan District Attorney's Office. He said to the extent Mr. Spitzer is charged it would likely be under the Mann Act, which prohibits transportation of people across state lines with the intent to commit prostitution.

[Eliot Spitzer]

But "the Mann Act really was designed more towards those who get someone to travel against their will," Mr. Bachner said. "If Spitzer gets indicted, it would seem to me he would be indicted based on who he is rather than what he's done. Those who frequent prostitutes are very, very rarely the subjects of a federal prosecution when clearly it's commercial and consensual."

As for possible state charges, he said "customers are rarely prosecuted in the state" and charges that are brought are typically disposed of with a plea to disorderly conduct, "which is akin to a traffic ticket," Mr. Bachner said.

The Web site of the Emperors Club VIP displays photographs of scantily clad women with their faces hidden. It also shows hourly rates depending on whether the prostitutes were rated with one diamond, the lowest ranking, or seven diamonds, the highest. The most highly ranked prostitutes cost $5,500 an hour, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said the defendants arranged connections between wealthy men and more than 50 prostitutes in New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Miami, London and Paris. The Times reported that the governor's travel records show he was in Washington in mid-February, and that one of the clients arranged to meet with a prostitute.

Complaint Alleges a Washington Rendezvous

The Washington hotel was believed to be the Mayflower Hotel, according to a federal complaint unsealed last week.

According to the complaint filed against four defendants charged with running a prostitution ring that charged rates of as much as $5,500 an hour, the first evidence of Mr. Spitzer's dealings with the ring occurred on Feb 11, when one of the defendants, Temeka Rachelle Lewis, asked to be informed when a "package" of money from a person identified in the complaint as "Client-9" and believed to be Mr. Spitzer, arrived.

Though the money apparently still hadn't arrived on Feb. 12, Ms. Lewis called a prostitute who used the name "Kristen" to book a trip to Washington. "Kristen" was going to take the train from New York to Washington and the client, believed to be Mr. Spitzer, would pay for everything – "train tickets, cab fare from the hotel and back, mini bar or room service, travel time and hotel." Ms. Lewis added that the client believed to be Mr. Spitzer "would not do traditional wire transferring."

Later that night, Mr. Spitzer called Ms. Lewis. Ms. Lewis told him the "package" hadn't arrived and asked if there was a return address, and he responded that there wasn't. He said he was interested in an appointment the following evening.

The next day, Feb. 13, "Kristen" was told that the money had arrived and that she should go to New York City's Penn Station, where she would get the Amtrak train for the trip to Washington. That afternoon, Mr. Spitzer, identified in the complaint as Client-9, called and told Ms. Lewis he expected to have an appointment at "10:00 pm or so," and asked who would be serving him. When told it was "Kristen," he replied "great, okay, wonderful." According to the complaint, this wasn't the first time that the client had used the Emperors Club service.

The complaint also said he was asked whether he could give "Kristen" extra money at his appointment that night to avoid payment issues in the future. The client said he might, according to the complaint.

Shortly before 9 p.m. on Feb. 13, the person who is said to be Mr. Spitzer told Ms. Lewis that he had arranged to leave a key in the room for Kristen. According to the complaint, he asked Ms. Lewis to remind him what "Kristen" looked like. Ms. Lewis responded that she is a five-foot five-inch petite brunette, according to the complaint.

The client arrived shortly after 9:36 p.m. according to the complaint, and left soon before 12:02 a.m. Mr. Spitzer apparently paid "Kristen" $4,300 before he left. The prostitute told Ms. Lewis, "I don't think he's difficult."

The day "Client-9" was said to be in Washington, Feb. 13, was the day Mr. Spitzer appeared before lawmakers do discuss problems facing the bond insurance industry.

The case is being handled by prosecutors in the Public Corruption unit of U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia's office. Garcia spokeswoman Yusill Scribner said the office had no comment.

Around a stunned state Capitol in Albany, lawmakers and staff huddled around televisions to see the news conference. A media mob gathered outside the office of Lt. Gov. David Paterson, who would become governor if Spitzer was to resign.

Mr. Spitzer, 48, built his political reputation on rooting out corruption, including several headline-making battles with Wall Street while serving as attorney general. He stormed into the governor's office in 2006 with a historic share of the vote, vowing to continue his no-nonsense approach to fixing one of the nation's worst governments.

Time magazine had named him "Crusader of the Year" when he was attorney general and the tabloids proclaimed him "Eliot Ness." But his stint as governor has been marred by several problems, including an unpopular plan to grant driver's licenses to illegal immigrants and a plot by his aides to smear Mr. Spitzer's main Republican nemesis.

Mr. Spitzer had been expected to testify to the state Public Integrity Commission he had created to answer for his role in the scandal, in which his aides were accused of misusing state police to compile travel records to embarrass Senate Republican leader Joseph Bruno.

Mr. Spitzer had served two terms as attorney general where he pursued criminal and civil cases and cracked down on misconduct and conflicts of interests on Wall Street and in corporate America. He had previously been a prosecutor in the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, handling organized crime and white-collar crime cases.

His cases as state attorney general included a few criminal prosecutions of prostitution rings and into tourism involving prostitutes.

In 2004, he was part of an investigation of an escort service in New York City that resulted in the arrest of 18 people on charges of promoting prostitution and related charges.


  1. Spitzer you just didn't have an affair, you broke the should resign and go spend time with your family you Hippocrate

  2. I imagine that Hillary Clinton's campaign is now frantically editing their website and litature to eliminate Eliot Spitzer's May 17, 2007 endorcement.

    Shades of "I didn't have sex with that woman", Eliot Spitzer has proven himself just another "experienced" politician who thinks the rest of us should do as they say and ignore what they do.

  3. Next up. Nothing surprises me anymore with these guys.
    I guess the rich are really different then the rest of us.
    I guess Mayor Mike is getting ready to run for the next job of govenor of New York.

  4. Corrupt is as corrupt does.

    The prosecutor on this case is Boyd Johnson.

    Another NYT story said Johnson had to be removed from the Haji Noorzai heroin case because Johnson had been accused of prosecutorial misconduct and he might just end up as a witness at the trial.

    Kind of makes you wonder what kind of job he'll do on the Spitzer call girl case, doesn't it?


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